Thursday, January 28, 2010

GU's Response to the State of the Union

President Barack Obama issued a strong appeal to lawmakers of both parties in his Jan. 27 State of the Union address to continue their vital work on healthcare reform, an issue that affects all generations.

At Generations United, we are heartened by this commitment to improving America’s health care. We join President Obama in urging Congress to keep working for reform, as he said last night: “Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.”

The current economic crisis has challenged Americans from all walks of life. President Obama rightfully addressed plans to promote job creation and business recovery. However, we must remember that true economic recovery is not limited to the workplace. Our nation’s most vulnerable children, families and older adults – the populations hardest hit by economic losses – need care, resources and support. As we await details about President Obama’s deficit commission and plans for a spending freeze, we caution that any conversation on deficit reduction must be viewed through an intergenerational lens. We hope that the proposed deficit commission and spending freeze do not become part of short-sighted fixes detracting from the far-reaching goals President Obama has pledged to achieve for all Americans.

We are pleased with President Obama’s emphasis on education and child care, recognizing that despite difficult economic times, he is emphasizing long-term investments that benefit all generations. Investing in our youth, and in education across the lifespan, has immediate payoffs as well as long-term gains. So does the announced increase in the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), which provides critical services to support family caregivers, including grandfamilies – grandparents or other relatives raising grandchildren.

“The only reason we are here,” President Obama said, “is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren.”

We join President Obama in paying respect to the many generations who have sacrificed and worked for a brighter tomorrow. We also stress that connecting the generations is key in solving the problems facing our country. Intergenerational programs have been shown to successfully fight childhood obesity. Workforce mentoring across generations improves communication and productivity. Grandfamilies provide care and support to our most vulnerable children.

Our country is rich in both history and in opportunity, in wisdom and in possibility. As we move into 2010, we must recognize the interconnectedness of the generations and look to solutions that benefit and engage all ages.

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